Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sports Elitists NBA Finals Game 2 Preview: Cavs @ Spurs

Here's a nice picture that pretty much describes the story that was NBA Finals Game 1...

It seems like we've created a lot of posts about the Cavs lately, but since sports are pretty thin these days, we may as well stick to it as long as we can (and judging by game 1, that could be a pretty short time).

So we look back at Game 1 and ask two questions, one of which is worth answering:

-Were the Cavs that bad?


-Were the Spurs that good?

I think that the first question has plenty of merit and if you saw the game, you'd notice LeBron James 4/16, 14 point performance but the second question is the more accurate. On paper, where games are seldom played, the game was relatively even. Don't believe me? Let's go to the tale of the tape:

Spurs: .453
Cavs: .429

Foul Shooting
Spurs: 11/16
Cavs: 11/15

Spurs: 14
Cavs: 11

Spurs: 43
Cavs: 32

So it's pretty close on paper, but the utter domination by the "Big Three" (nothing like a genuine ESPN nickname) of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker was what put the Cavs behind in the game for the whole 48 minutes. Combined, their line was as follows: 67 pts - 25 rebs - 8 asts. The final score, as we remember, was 85-76, meaning the Big Three scored over 79% of the points, and pulled down 58% of the rebounds. That's damn good stuff and in the Finals, that is what wins games. Not to mention the emotional factor, with everyone hearing about the poster in LeBron's locker, which was promptly trumped by Duncan rejecting LeBron in similarly incredible fashion.

But the Cavs are not out of this series, not by a long shot. There are big adjustments to be made, sure, but if they make them, it is more than possible for the Cavs to sneak out of San Antonio and head back to Cleveland with a 1-1 series tie. But it is going to take a few key things from Mike Brown. Among them:

Mike Brown realizing that the high-ball screen may work twice, maybe even a third time. But running it from quarter 1 through the dismal end of the game does not a good strategy make. Really. I could have created a better strategy and I, as the other Sports Elitists will agree, know less about basketball than this guy. If you're going to run said play, however, all 5 on the court need to be doing something. The picker must finish the play, the freed-up man (likely LeBron) must drive to the hoop athletically but also have a good eye open for the other three players who are moving and looking for an open shot (which is what the other players must do in order for the play to work. Otherwise the game should just be called for the Spurs.

Second and most important (and I absolutley hate that I'm using an opinion from Bill Simmons) but Mike Brown needs to let go of what got him there and evolve. The starting five for the Cavs have a good core together, but they are not the 5 best players who could be on the court. From Bill Simmons, we learned this:

"Combined minutes of Cleveland's best unit that would give the Spurs the most trouble if they ever played together at the same time (Gibson, LeBron, Pavlovic, Gooden, Varejao): 6."

Yikes. Not because of the stat, but because Simmons is correct. If the Cavs fix this, they'll have a prayer.

There are 10 or 15 other things that would probably help but I'll save those for everyone else. Tonight we will find out what the Cavs are made of, what Mike Brown is capable of and, most importantly, if there is going to be much of a series left on Monday morning.

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